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Table of Contents

Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service




Chapter 1: Growing Up

Chapter 2: Port Moresby Before Pearl Harbour

Chapter 3: Port Moresby After Pearl Harbour
Work in the Meteorological Office
Japanese Land in Rabaul
Catalina and Hudson Operations
First Sight of the Japanese
Japanese Plans for the Invasion of Port Moresby
RAAF Meteorologists Under Threat of Japanese Advance
More Air Raids on Port Moresby
The Story of the Hudson
A Blow to Morale
More Air Raids but No 75 Squadron Kittykawks Arrive
Japanese Attempt to Invade Port Moresby by Sea
Japanese Submarines Attack Sydney
Attack on MV MacDhui
Return to Australia
The Meteorologists' Contribution

Chapter 4: Allied Air Force HQ and RAAF Command, Brisbane

Chapter 5: Japan Surrenders and We Are Demobilised



Appendix 1: References

Appendix 2: Milestones

Appendix 3: Papers Published in Tropical Weather Research Bulletins

Appendix 4: Radiosonde Observations 1941–46


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Chapter 3: Port Moresby After Pearl Harbour (continued)

Because he was an Army private, I could not take him into the officers' mess but we found a place to sit and talk in the warm evening air. He told me that he was a member of a company of teenaged infantry soldiers which had been despatched to Port Moresby with a minimum of training. He mentioned that some of his young fellow infantrymen were reduced to tears at times by loneliness and fear for their future. I did what I could to reassure him that we would soon see Air Force, Navy and Army reinforcements. Privately I considered this to be highly unlikely. I cannot remember his name. I did not see him again. I do know that his unit crossed the Owen Stanley Range and fought with distinction in the defence of Kokoda.

Work in the Meteorological Office

It must have been early in 1942 that F/O Bill Dowell arrived to replace Keith Hannay as a second forecaster. We did not see a lot of each other as we worked alternate shifts, maintaining a dawn to dusk, seven day a week, analysis and forecasting routine. I have fond memories of his agreeable personality and his dedication to the job in what developed into a highly stressful situation. As soon as Bill arrived I hitched a ride to Townsville in a RAAF Hudson so I could learn first-hand from Sqn Ldr Arthur White, Area Meteorological Officer, what was planned for the further development of the operation of the RAAF Meteorological Service. I recall that most of the flight from Port Moresby to Townsville was made in the heaviest rainfall I have ever experienced in an aircraft. The rainfall was so intense that the sound of it falling on the metal skin seemed to be as loud as the noise of the engines. Arthur had little to tell me except that I should do all I could for the RAAF. I hitched a ride back to Port Moresby having learnt nothing from Arthur except a few ribald jokes.

Our meteorological office on the reclamation area afforded a good view of the harbour and was reassuringly adjacent to one of the two recently constructed concrete air-raid shelters. We saw the comings and goings of the Catalinas and the Short Empire 'C' Class flying boats. The construction of the Seven-mile airstrip, which had been proceeding for many many months, was still unfinished, the length of the strip being insufficient for the take-off of heavy bombers. It was used by itinerant Hudsons but did not have any aircraft permanently located on the strip.

People in Bright Sparcs - Hannay, Alexander Keith (Keith); White, Arthur Charles

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Gibbs, W. J. 1995 'A Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service', Metarch Papers, No. 7 March 1995, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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